The sudden surge in e-commerce firms advertising on mass media has surely not gone unnoticed by readers of this blog. While Flipkart has been advertising on TV for a few years now (read our posts on their ads here and here) , in the last few weeks every e-commerce firm (with deep pockets and / or investors) has jumped on the bandwagon. Switch on TV and ads for Pepperfry / Fabfurnish / Jabong / Amazon etc. appear as often as those for soaps, soft drinks and biscuits ; drive on any major artery in Mumbai and alongside posters of political parties that contested the just concluded state elections you’ll find those for Pepperfry.com ; print media has been used extensively too with some players even splashing their ad on the front page.
Of course, with the Dussehra – Diwali festival season approaching, one would expect any retail venture to step up promotions and advertising, we see almost all brands and supermarkets doing so too. But what drives the young e-commerce firms to advertise on mass media ? Surely they’re masters of advertising on the internet and on social media, which are not only cheaper media, but allow the brand to fine-tune targeting their audience in a manner that mass media simply cannot match. So why spend big bucks on a (relatively) scatter-shot approach when you have a finely tuned laser at your disposal ?
Ah, take a look at the results of the same. As per this news report, Snapdeal’s sponsorship of the popular teleserial ‘Big Boss’ resulted in them recording highest ever sales. This article quotes Vikram Chopra, CEO and co-founder of FabFurnish, “During and after a few months of the television campaign, our traffic increased two and half times.” And I’m not even getting into describing Flipkart’s Big Billion Day sale, as the furore afterwards has ensured that everyone knows all about the record number of prospective customers that logged in on the day. Would advertising on digital and social media alone give e-commerce companies the same outcome ?
One simple fact can help answer this. Amongst the Indians who are active online, a low proportion actually shop online; we gave the data related to this in a post a few weeks ago. For instance, in Russia and China, almost half of the population that are active online also shop online ; whereas in India this proportion is a little less than 10%.
There are various reasons for this. Firstly, the number bandied around as the number of Indians that are active online includes even those who access the internet infrequently. As this post shows , in the top 35 cities which account for 42% of Active net users, only 54% access the internet daily. The All-India figure for percentage of active internet users who access the net daily is much lower.
Now, layer this with the fact that a significant proportion of sales for e-commerce firms are from tier 2 cities, and you see the importance of getting their residents transacting online. The best media for targeting these markets is still TV. As this article mentions Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl saying during a conference, “All e-commerce companies want to penetrate the tier-II market and Big Boss is a great medium for that.”
Hence, the necessity for e-commerce firms to advertise on mass media and attract more people onto online media, simply advertising on digital media just won’t suffice as not enough people are active online.
- Zenobia Driver